Mr. Reich, from TV extra to TOTY

Language Arts teacher Andrew Reich’s resume may come as a surprise. From author to free-lance journalist to actor, Reich has pursued many career paths. Returning for his 21st school year, Reich was nominated for and won the Teacher of the Year award.

     Reich will be competing against other Miami-Dade County Public School teachers for district-wide recognition. However, his career started far from Miami-Dade, in a small Massachusetts town.

    After graduating from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, he began his first job at a newspaper in Gardner, Massachusetts, called The Gardner News, where he learned the true nature of being a journalist. 

     “I had an editor that would scream and sometimes embarrass the writers for even small grammar mistakes,” Reich said, “but you would learn since you did not want to go through the humiliation again.” 

     Although Reich enjoyed writing for the newspaper, it wasn’t what he loved, so he ventured into other careers. Wanting to come back to familiar territory, Reich moved back to Miami and began working as a freelance journalist, mainly for The Sun Sentinel.

     “I would look in the newspapers that came out on Sundays, and try to find different things that I could write a story on,” Reich said. “For example, there was a local band that played in a restaurant in Miami Shores, and one of the musicians was a lawyer by day and by night he pursued his dream of becoming a famous musician. I got to interview them for a story, and learned a lot. I would do that every week and just find topics I was interested in, and try writing stories on it.”

     At the time, Reich was also acting in plays and movies, and even played an extra in the movie “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” starring Jim Carrey and Courteney Cox. Around the same time, he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at Florida International University and was introduced to the education industry.

     “I was acting at the time, and one of the other actors in the play was a teacher. That’s what gave me the initial idea,” Reich said. “It combined a lot of the things I am interested in and I just ended up sticking with it.”

     Beginning at Brownsville Middle School in 1995, Reich taught seventh and eighth grade English. However, after wanting to switch to a high school level, Krop opened within a few years, and he decided to make the switch, never looking back.

     “I really wanted to teach at the high school level, and Krop was really the school I wanted to work at the most,” Reich said. “It was a brand new school, and it had kids that grew up in the same area I did. I knew the area, and I knew the kids.”. 

     In Reich’s Creative Writing class, he attempts to draw the imagination of students in writing and focuses on parts of stories like character and plot development. Although, Reich feels that the students are not the only people learning while in that class.

      “I really like the poetry unit we are on, it touches on death and grief, which allows us to get emotional and deep in our writing,” sophomore Ariana Valigy said. “Earlier in the year, we learned how to form characters within our literature, themes, and different types of stories. It benefits me because we are able to write what we feel and share with each other, while having classmates that help you by giving feedback.”

    After finishing his 20th year at Krop, he was nominated for the Teacher of the Year award, and voted for by a committee of five teachers, who presented him with the accolade.

     “It was a huge honor, because it’s your peers, people that you work with, that think highly of you enough to vote for an award,” Reich said. “A lot of the time, you are in your room, either with students or alone, and there isn’t much interaction, so when they would vote for you, it is certainly an honor.”  

     Reich’s students definitely agree with the decision and describe positive experiences they have had after only having him for one semester.

     “Mr. Reich has been one of my best teachers. I remember watching ‘Lost’ at the same time we read ‘Lord of the Flies,’ which were both great learning experiences,” sophomore Michael Benzadon said. “He helped us really learn what we were reading, and deepened my overall understanding of old literature.”

     Advanced Placement English Language and Literature teacher Deborah Anderson also described her experience working with Reich.

     “I came here the second year Krop opened, around the same time as Mr. Reich. He is awesome, genuine, and if I ever need anything, I know he is there,” Anderson said. “He definitely has a shy side, but once you get to know him, he has a great sense of humor. I was on the committee that voted for him, and he deserves the award.” 

      As Teacher of the Year for the 2021-2022 school year, Reich’s wish for the school, English department and his colleagues is to be able to have more chances to work together. Cooperation and unity among teachers and students in the school can go a long way in helping us for the future.

     “The biggest change I would like to see would be more opportunities to collaborate and more cohesiveness within the teachers in regards to planning things,” Reich said. “I feel it would be easier and beneficial for everybody.”